Quintero v. Rodgers – 5/12/2009

May 14, 2009

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That Arizona’s Survival Statute Precludes Loss of Enjoyment of Life Damages, but Allows Punitive Damages.

Defendant Matthew Rodgers’ vehicle collided with another vehicle that then collided with Luis Soto’s vehicle.  Soto sued Rodgers, but subsequently died in an unrelated workplace accident.   Plaintiff Elizabeth Quinter, his widow and personal representative of his estate, accordingly substituted herself in his place.  Rodgers moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that (1) Quintero could not claim damages for Soto’s loss of enjoyment of life or punitive damages under Arizona’s survival statute, and (2) the trial court should not allow Quintero to argue punitive damages to the jury because she had not met the required clear and convincing threshold.  The court granted Rodger’s motion without explanation, and Quintero timely appealed.

The Arizona Appeals Court affirmed in part and reversed in part.  The Court affirmed with respect to loss of enjoyment of life damages, holding that Arizona’s survival statute, A.R.S. § 14-3110, precludes such damages because it states that “upon death of the person injured, damages for pain and suffering of such injured person shall not be allowed.”  The Court explained that loss of enjoyment damages are a form of pain and suffering damages.  The Court rejected Quintero’s argument that they are a separate types of damages, and in doing so distinguished Ogden v. J.M. Steel Erecting, Inc., 201 Ariz. 32, 31 P.3d 806 (App. 2001) because that case did not find that loss of enjoyment damages are distinct from pain and suffering damages.

The Court, however, reversed with respect to punitive damages, holding that such damages are not precluded by § 13-3110 because they are not aimed at compensation, and therefore do not fall within the pain and suffering language of the statute.  The Court also held that there was sufficient evidence of Rodgers’ recklessness to submit the issue of punitive damages to the jury.   

Judge Irvine authored the opinion; Presiding Judge Winthrop and Judge Hall concurred.